Fibromyalgia is a complex health problem that affects about 2-4% of the population, a majority of those people being women. It is a chronic condition that can cause pain all over the body. Other symptoms that patients most often have are:
- Tenderness to touch or pressure affecting joints and muscles
- Sleep problems (waking up unrefreshed)
- Problems with memory or thinking clearly
Some patients also may have:
- Depression or anxiety
- Migraine or tension headaches
- Digestive problems: irritable bowel syndrome (commonly called IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (often referred to as GERD)
- Irritable or overactive bladder
- Pelvic pain
- Temporomandibular disorder—often called TMJ (a set of symptoms including face or jaw pain, jaw clicking and ringing in the ears)
Symptoms of fibromyalgia and its related problems can vary in intensity, and will wax and wane over time. Stress often worsens the symptoms.
Chiropractic care may help those who suffer from fibromyalgia by keeping the spine and muscles pliable. Because fibromyalgia causes the muscles to tighten up and lose some of their natural movement patterns, it can result in a global loss of movement in the spine. The loss of movement in the spine results in a neurological reflex that causes the muscles to tighten further. This vicious cycle will continue and over time will lead to increased pain, increased muscle tightness, a loss of movement, more difficulty sleeping and the development of more tender points in the muscles. Spinal manipulation can help maintain the body’s normal movement, and addressing the muscle pain with therapeutic manual therapy can have a tremendous impact in reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
It is important when seeking chiropractic care, to make sure that the doctor is familiar with the muscular changes that occur with fibromyalgia so that they can adjust their treatment accordingly. The bottom line is that chiropractic treatment, along with modifications to the diet, lifestyle changes and the development of an individualized exercise and stretching program can be extremely beneficial to those affected with fibromyalgia.